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Furniture orders, shipments through February running even with 2010

 Furniture factory orders, shipments in Feb 2011
HIGH POINT — This year started a lot like last year for U.S. residential furniture factories, whose orders and shipments through February were running even with 2010, according to Smith Leonard.

Ken Smith, managing partner of the accounting and consulting firm, said in his monthly Furniture Insights newsletter that the results were "not all that bad," considering that 2010 got off to a healthy start with factory orders up 9% from January and February of 2009.

Smith also said the severe weather in parts of the country early this year, which probably hurt retail sales worse than usual for a winter, could have affected factories' business.

Some 44% of the participants in Smith Leonard's monthly factory survey reported increased orders for the first two months of this year.

"On a bright note, the recent High Point Market appeared to be one of the best in quite some time. While order writing is not what it used to be, we heard several reports that order writing was the highest since 2007," Smith added.

He also noted a recent National Assn. of Realtors report on existing home sales that said the typical monthly mortgage payment for the purchase of a median-priced home is only 13% of gross household income, the lowest since records began in 1970. That should leave home buyers with more disposable dollars, and "hopefully some will be left over for furniture," Smith said.

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